By Ted McKeigan

On Sept. 11, 2017, the running community lost one of the good guys.

Dave “Python” Northey, 68, passed away from a long suffering heart condition that not only took his life too soon but it also took him away from his passion of running too soon. Listed below are some of his accomplishments, but he’s better remembered for his kind and gentle manner, for his fierce competitive approach to racing and his humbleness. When you spoke with Dave, you would never know just how good he was.

Dave’s passions were running and music. He was an excellent musician (guitar and banjo) and loved playing and listening to Bluegrass music. If he wasn’t running, he was attending jam sessions and concerts – as long as it was Bluegrass.

Dave married Kathy (ne: Leader), also a passionate runner. She cared for Dave right to the end. He had a sister, who passed away two days before he did. Dave worked at the University of Waterloo with famed runner and Professor, Dr. Rich Houghson, in the Kinesiology lab. He was one of the founding members of the Waterloo County AAA and also ran for Toronto Olympic Club.

Those of us who lived, trained and competed with Dave, will remember his sense of humour, his concern for his fellow runner, his love of road trips, and his competitive drive. We also learned to play Bluegrass music with him. In a race, on those rare occasions where you pulled ahead of Dave, you knew it wouldn’t be long before he went storming past, leaving everyone in the dust.

Nobody is really sure of the origin of his nickname “Python” but that’s what everyone called him. He will be missed.


National Cross Country Championship – 1970 – 12K – 2nd place
National Cross Country Championship – 1971 – 12K – 3rd place
Half Marathon – 1972 – 1:08 – Puerto Rico

Berwick Marathon (9 mile ) – winner and record holder – 1971 and 1978 – 44:03
Around the Bay 30K – 1977 – 1st place – 1:36:54
Springbank International Road Races – 12 mile – 1976 – 3rd place – 55:56; 1977 – 3rd place – 56:56
Marathon – 1983 – Huntsville, Alabama – 2:16:01
10 mile – 1977 – 48:52
10 km – 1978 – 29:45
Ottawa Marathon 1978 – 4th place – 2:18.55

Dave won numerous cross-country and track races while at the University of Waterloo, winning individual and team OUAA Championships. He also won Most Valuable Athlete in 1970 for the University of Waterloo.

On the roads, he either won or was a top finisher in a multitude of road races, including the Waterloo 10K Classic, Toronto Star Trek 20K, Alviston to Watford 10 miler, Toronto Silver Relays, Around the Bay 30K, Ottawa Marathon (2:16:52), Eaton’s 10K, Toronto Spring Run Off, Berwick Marathon 9 miler., and Guelph Thanksgiving Road Races to name a few.

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  • Ron VanKoughnett says:

    I was a member of WCAAA mid 70’s to mid 80′ when Dave was at his best as a runner. That’s not quite accurate. He was always at his best as a person. As you say he was fiercely competitive and at the same humble. Middle of the pack people like me were never made to feel a lesser runner by Dave. I travelled to many races with Dave and had lots of laughs before and after. I actually beat him once at an evening race and then found out that he had already run a 20k or half marathon that morning. We’ve lost a great runner but more importantly a good, good guy.

  • George Aitkin says:

    I usually raced in the same road races as Dave but occasionally got to watch him make the opposition work hard. On those days, thankfully I was able to get photos of him in action, like the ones above. dave was always the man you would want to stand with at an event, to talk about running or anything else.

  • Murray Hale says:

    What a loss.dave was my best friend and roommate while attending the University of waterloo. He was a terrific athlete and a great. We enjoyed many training and racing efforts together and played bluegrass music in our spare time. One of his

    favorite bluegrass tunes was “Its 10 degrees and Getting Colder by tony Rice. I will miss Dave..

  • Alan Wrobel says:

    Omigosh! The Great White Northey was soooo great. He was one of the truly great people of running, and life RIP

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